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Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmers Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving Paperback – 1 Jan 1990

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing Co; 2Rev Ed edition (1 Jan 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890132721
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890132729
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 2.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 538,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Carol Deppe is a plant breeder and writer who lives in Corvallis, Oregon. She has a B.S. in Zoology from University of Florida and a Ph.D. in Biology from Harvard University. "At least I think I have a Ph.D. from Harvard," Deppe says. "But when I got the diploma it was in Latin, and I don't read Latin, so who knows?" Deppe's garden and science writing has appeared in Horticulture, Organic Gardening, National Gardening, and elsewhere. She works to develop crops for sustainable agriculture.

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Feb 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a great read for anybody who might have an interest in plant breeding. The author starts off at a relatively basic level and explains using practical examples how plant breeding is performed using a number of well-established techniques and processes. It is highly informative with plenty of reference to the tips and tricks used in plant-breeding. I have a scientific background, so I am quite familiar with the scientific side i.e. genetics etc, but some readers unfamiliar with the concepts of genes and heredity may find that the going gets tough in places. However, the author does succeed in keeping the tone and writing style as down-to-earth as possible which makes this book very accessible to the lay reader. Without doubt it is the most accessible book on the market regarding plant-breeding at the moment. One technical quibble I have is that the statistical tables at the back of the book, for estimating the necessary number of plants required to isolate particular genetic types, could have been developed a bit further. But other than that it is a very complete book and should inspire many gardeners/growers to take their work with plants to a higher level.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Hunt on 3 Nov 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is destined to become a classic, if it is not already. The author brings professional botanical and genetic knowledge and practical gardening together in a way that an intelligent gardener can follow easily. It makes a good read in one go, and then acts as a reference book for specific techniques and plants. It is very much about what it says in the title - breeding your own vegetable varieties. You will need other books on organic gardening and seed saving if you want help with specifics of those things. I found the book stimulating and visionary.
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By Joleen on 14 Nov 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book full of good advice
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 40 reviews
112 of 114 people found the following review helpful
An engaging and important book 5 Feb 2001
By Merry Youle - Published on
Format: Paperback
I fell in love with the first edition of Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, and I am even more delighted with this second edition (published in December, 2000). It is rare to find an author with Carol Deppe's depth of scientific knowledge who is able to distill what is most useful from that knowledge and combine it with a large dose of practical experience. Add to this the fact that Deppe is a captivating storyteller, and you have an informative book that is truly a delight to read.
While Deppe clearly has one foot in the world of genetics and the science of plant breeding, the other she has firmly planted among the peas and squash in her own garden. She relates tales of her garden ventures and introduces you to other adventuresome plant breeders. As you read on, you will find yourself daydreaming about a new variety, perhaps a tomato that would have "real" tomato flavor, be extra nutritious, grow happily in one of your homemade tomato cages, and thrive in your garden. But, as Deppe explains, the only way to get that variety is to breed it yourself. The professional plant breeders won't do it for you. Their attention is focused on a few commercially important food crops, their goal the development of those traits that are of benefit to commercial growers, such as suitability for mechanical harvesting and long distance transport. Deppe's focus is on breeding varieties that, among other things, thrive under organic and/or sustainable growing conditions.
Gardeners and small scale farmers can, and do, breed the varieties they want. Although successful plant breeding doesn't necessarily require a lot of time or garden space, it does require some knowledge---thus, the primary need for this book. The technical chapters are well-crafted guides to the principles of genetics combined with practical and workable strategies for applying those principles. Especially useful are the sections on designing garden trials and on how to be certain you are indeed selecting for the traits you want. There are also detailed illustrated instructions showing how to breed eight popular vegetables: tomato, lettuce, pea, bean, corn, onions and relatives, cabbages and relatives, and squash/pumpkins. An appendix contains essential data for breeding 801 cultivated vegetables and their wild relatives, useful information for all plant breeders.
Deppe also shares many practical techniques, methods, and strategies, gleaned from years in the garden. These tips are invaluable. They get you thinking about ways that you could experiment and explore more with the garden resources you have. And when things don't go quite as hoped, she reminds you that you can eat your mistakes.
At the heart of any plant breeding venture is good seed saving practice. Even gardeners who do not consider themselves to be plant breeders, when faced with the disappearance of their old favorites from the seed catalogs suddenly want to save their own seed. There are a number of factors you must handle properly if you are going to save your own seed and maintain vigorous, pure strains. The six new chapters added to this edition to cover this area take seed saving much farther than has been done elsewhere. There is a whole chapter devoted to selecting the individual plants from which you will want to save seed, while other chapters discuss isolation practices, the number of plants required, and other factors.
Even if all the vegetables on your table come from the grocery store, you might want this book for the new chapter that compares the advantages and limitations of classical plant breeding techniques with those of genetic engineering. Deppe provides a perceptive discussion of the results, both intended and unanticipated, of applying genetic engineering to the development of food crops. She also explains why classical plant breeding methods remain an important, and in many instances preferable, tool for enhancing our food supply.
All in all, an informative, insightful, and most enjoyable book that is an essential guide for gardeners and small scale farmers alike.
43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Best Introduction to Breeding for Beginners 26 Feb 2006
By Robert A. Williams - Published on
Format: Paperback
The author has a PhD from Harvard in biology and is a geneticist. Yet she has written her easy-to-understand book as if she has a teaching degree from Ashland University. Her premise is that all our major food crops were originally developed by amateurs. Until recently, all gardeners and farmers saved their own seed and hence, all gardeners and farmers were automatically amateur plant breeders - and amateur plant breeding was the only kind of plant breeding there was.

Deppe's book has two major purposes: 1) to encourage all of us gardeners and farmers to rediscover the excitement and rewards of developing your very own vegetable variety, and 2) to show amateurs how to breed plants more easily. As Deppe says "Any gardener can do them". This book is for all gardeners everywhere. It's for the gardener who has been told that "you can't grow that here", but who wants to anyway (such as artichokes in Ohio). This book is for growers who like white and purple carrots, and other crosses. This book is for seed savers, which is the first step in plant breeding. This book is for organic gardeners who want to develop powdery mildew-resistant varieties, by breeding them yourself.

Deppe's chapters cover amateur vegetable breeding, space and time; roles and goals such as breeding for flavor, size, shape, earliness, cold or heat resistance, disease resistance, or yield; finding germplasm where she explains about the USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System; evaluating germplasm and conducting and evaluating garden trials; genetics and plant parenthood; sex and the single gene; modern genes; hybrids; plant-breeding stories; breeding with established polyploids; fun with wide crosses; happy accidental crosses; domesticating wild plants; and expanding horizons along with many appendices that list plants, vegetables, germplasm collections, seed saver organizations, supplies, and how-to information sources.

This is the best introduction to seed saving and breeding your own vegetable varieties you'll find and invaluable to those interested in creating a unique vegetable variety.
52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Suprise!!! This book is fun!!! 7 Mar 2006
By Shelly Sutherland - Published on
Format: Paperback
I bought the earlier edition of this book for someone else...had no intention of reading it (or keeping it) but started to browse and got hooked!

This book reads like a novel--all the characters are my near and dear friends, the garden fruits and veggies. Mouth-watering detail sets the stage for getting your imagination started. What would you like to grow that you haven't seen in the seed catalogues? A watermellon that can ripen in your northern climate? Greens that won't be mowed down by slugs in your wet, costal garden? Perhaps a juicy, sweet tomato just like your favorite slicer, but in a convenient cherry size?

Just when you have all these images of the yummy possibilities dancing through your head, the story turns dark...Unfortunately, the professional plant breeders are not looking for the same things you are. Professional plant breeders want thick-skinned tomatoes that can be machine harvested, that ripen all at once, and that store and ship easily. (at this point, I want to yell, NOOO!!! Not THAT tomato!!!)

But sadly, past market forces have inadvertantly destroyed so much of the lovely work of our ancestors to produce flavor, long harvest periods, plants that survive organically, open pollination, and most of all, variety.

But wait! All is not lost! Remember how all those wonderful things came to be in the first place? Amateur plant breeders! And guess what? It doesn't have to take a lot of time, or even much space, to start tweaking and experimenting with what you can get to grow in your own garden. You don't even need experience, let alone a degree. And she's got lots of stories and examples to prove it.

Then she starts throwing out possibilities I never would have thought of...why stick to things we already grow as vegetables? Why not domesticate one of the thousands of edible plants that no one else is even working on? Or how about experimenting with ways to use food that weren't available when it all started, like developing something that microwaves conveniently?

I think Carol Deppe is a creative genius with the rare ability to communicate her passion and knowlege for her favorite subject. After reading this book, really after reading just the first few chapters, I felt like this is something that I really could do, and can't believe I hadn't thought of it before. People have been saving seed for thousands of years, it's not rocket science.

For an idea of Deppe's writing style, she's written an interesting article about parching corn that you can find if you google "carol deppe and parching corn."
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Good book 9 April 2008
By J.W. - Published on
Format: Paperback
I was looking for a book on seed saving. This book sounded like it had information on that topic, plus the topic of breeding your own plant varieties; a 2 for 1!. I was a little disappointed that there weren't any pictures in the book. I would have liked to have seen some visual examples of hand breeding, different flower types, pictures of plant parents and their offspring, and of course a few concerning seed saving. But the vast amounts of information in this book more than make up for the lack of a few pictures. Overall a good book and a great resource for the home gardener.
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Double Your Gardening Pleasure with this Fine Book! 26 Nov 2001
By Thomas L. Ogren - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book a few months ago and have been enjoying it very much. I am a hardcore gardener and for many years now I have been breeding my own roses and have also done some hybridizing with begonias. I had never tried crossing vegetables though.
After reading Carol Deepe's neat book though, I've decided that starting next spring I will be making some hybrid crosses with vegetables, for sure.
Most people who garden do not really understand the whole process of making crosses, of creating new hybrids. This book explains it very clearly and gardeners will find out that it isn't really difficult at all. Quite simple actually, and with some often remarkable rewards.
As explained well in this text, vegetables today are mostly bred just for the market, for things like better shipability. Breeding for taste and other such, is pretty well now left up to the amateur breeders. My point here is that if you want to grow the best vegeatbles, you almost need to start crossing your own.
One of the biggest pleasures of creating your own vegetable crosses is that they are YOUR OWN. You can then grow things that no one else is growing, planting seeds that are not for sale anywhere. This can add a huge amount of pleasure to gardening. It just makes it all much more fun.
This book is useful, interesting, well written and easy to understand. It would make a great present for anyone who loves to garden and by all means get one for yourself, too. It will easily pay for itself the very first season you own it. A dandy book!
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